Nektar - Journey To The Centre Of The Eye (1971)
Album: Nektar - Journey To The Center Of The Eye (Special Edition: Remaster + 5.1 Surround SACD Layer)
Released: 1971 (2004)
Label: Eclectic/Dream Nebula DNECD 1203
Nektar’s debut album is finally heard in the manner it was intended. After the location of the original studio multi-track masters, “Journey”, Nektar’s Space-Rock masterpiece has been remixed in 5.1 Surround sound with astounding results.
Recorded in 1971, the album is now rightly regarded as a classic of its genre. This SACD release sees both the new Surround Sound remix and the remastered version of the original master tapes presented for the first time. Being a hybrid SACD, this release will also play the normal stereo version on any CD player.
As an extra bonus, the track “Do You Believe in Magic” is added along with “1-2-3-4” (which makes its debut on CD) as bonus features. - Re-issue Description
Prelude An introduction Astronaut's
Nightmare A rocket leaves on course for Saturn, at a time when Earth is on the verge of a nuclear World war. Countenance The rocket is intercepted by a Saucer of unknown origin. The astronaut joins if and learns that the Saucer had been observing earth for many years and was surprised at our warlike ways. The strangers offer to show the Astronaut life in their Galaxy. The Astronaut agrees and they leave together. The Nine Lifeless Daughter's of the Sun The interstellar ship thrusts away from the sun and our solar system into the void and de-materialises into "Hyperspace". Warp Oversight Once in a state of no time - no space, the ship is
subject to a strange journey and then suddenly re-materialises in another Galaxy. The Dream Nebula The new Galaxy is so serene and beautiful. The atmosphere creates incredible dreams in his mind, and gives him great knowledge. It's All in the Mind The new insight expands more than he can bear and he breaks mentally wanting to see no more.
Burn Out My Eyes His wish is granted, he sees only with his mind, he struggles with his senses trying to regain control of himself. Void of Vision Now travelling at great speed down a long beautiful valley, he realises that there is more to life than he thought. Suddenly he sees a great EYE suspended in space - "THE ALL SEEING EYE"! Pupil of the Eye He enters the Eye to try and comprehend the Universe inside himself. Suddenly he becomes the eye and sees at once everything there is to see. It is so wonderful and at the same time so horrible, he is afraid. He realises that eveiylhing he has seen, exists on Earth although he had not noticed before because of all the wars. Look Inside Yourself His mind cries out to anyone willing to listen that they should look for there-selves and try to understand that Eailh is heading for total destruction. Death of the Mind As if in warning his mind drifts back to his departure and he visualises the destruction of Earth!
British band that lived and recorded in Germany, and included two (British) members on lights and visuals (Apparently Nektar live was quite an impressive spectacle, hence their surprising popularity). Journey To The Centre Of The Eye is a mindblowing epic with lots of echoplex guitar and dual Mellotrons which is quite in tune with the Krautrock stuff going on around them, yet is definitely British. The reverb guitar cascades often remind me of Ash Ra Temple or early Tangerine Dream, whereas the lush Mellotrons and often intense tones make me think more of King Crimson. An impressive debut... - Mike Ohman, New Gibraltar Encyclopedia Of Progressive Rock
Folks unfamiliar with the band Nektar think they are from Germany. What actually transpired was the quartet of Englishmen met in Germany in 1969 and formed the band. Ron Howden (drums, percussion), Derek "Mo" Moore (bass, vocals), Alan "Taff" Freeman (keyboards, vocals) and Roye Albrighton (guitar, lead vocals) would become huge in Germany and nearly broke big the in the U.S.
Eclectic Discs/Dream Nebula Recordings have reissued the four critically acclaimed albums that defined the band's career. A Tab In The Ocean, Journey To The Center Of The Eye, Remember The Future and Recycled are lovingly remastered with detailed liner notes for former fans and the newly indoctrinated to enjoy. Their well-known masterpiece Remember The Future was appropriately chosen for the SACD format as well as Journey To The Center Of The Eye.
Their sound was a progressive-psychedelic mixture of rock that was far ahead of its time. For this listener this was a new wonderful listening experience. Prior to receiving these CDs, I had not heard any Nektar music besides a video of "Remember The Future" on a DVD compilation. I can understand now what all the talk has been about the band reforming and going on tour.
Roye Albrighton was the driving force of this band. His skilled guitar playing set the table for his fellow band mates. Each recording was outstanding and stands as a testament to their importance to the history of prog-rock music. What made this so interesting was how the label broke up each album into two parts respectively, the original recordings versus the newly remastered versions. You are now able to hear succinct differences between the two formats for the first time. Both versions are excellent and it was a treat to get the best of both worlds.
Any prog-rock listener will most certainly enjoy taking in this musical paradise in more than once, I listened to each CD four times myself and I know there will be many more spins of each CD down the road. I look forward to catching Nektar 2004 on the road this year to relive all of these great songs in a live setting. I never would have decided to see them in concert if it wasn't for this remastered series.
• Rating: 5/5 overall - PROGRESSIVEWORLD.NET: REVIEWS BY KEITH "MUZIKMAN" HANNALECK
OF ALL THE BRITISH BANDS to emerge during the so-called "Progressive" rock era of the late 1960's - early 1970's, Nektar were perhaps one of the most unique and followed the most unusual of career paths. The group would find major success in Germany, enjoying Gold Disc status on most of their album releases, before finding even greater success in the USA. Although the majority of their albums were released in Britain, Nektar remained a band with a smaller but loyal following in their homeland.
Roye Albrighton, (guitar, lead vocals), Allan "Taff" Freeman (keyboards, vocals), Derek "Mo" Moore (bass guitar, vocals) and Ron Howden (drums and percussion) were often mistaken as a German band during their career, Nektar were in fact British and began life in Hamburg, Germany in 1969. Nektar's musicians had all shared experiences performing around Europe throughout the 1960's. "I began my musical career in the Sheffield area with local bands such as The Outlaws and Skyliners" recalls Ron Howden. "I then auditioned for a gig with London based band The Rocking Berries and after having got the gig left England to play on American bases in France. I lived in France for a while and met Mo who was playing in a band called Judd's Mates and were in the process of changing their drummer. I loved the Chuck Berry type style they played and so our bands basically swapped drummers and off we went".
Mo Moore remembers; "When Ron and I met in 1964 in France we hit it off immediately. We were offered a month's work at a US base in Bad Hersfeld in Germany and began working that circuit. After a while we became "The Upsetters". We ended up in Germany, ploying the US bases. Ron left to go home soon after. We then met up again in Frankfurt and I left The Upsetters and joined his band The Prophets. In 1 965 The Prophets played in Greece, and it was there that we met Demis Roussos and Vangelis."
"I remember that we did one of the first music TV shows in that country" recalls Ron. "On that show we met Demis Roussos and Vangelis with whom we became friends and sat in quite often at the Athens Hilton and Vangelis' house".
"Vangelis loved Ron's drums and my bass sound" explains Mo. "He liked the way we played together, we were always really tight. He invited us to his home for a jam. We would often go to the Hilton to jam with him as he was the resident organist there. He was a phenomenal musician. The Prophets were huge in Greece and did several concerts including one in the Panathanicos stadium in Athens for 20,000 people, which was no mean feat back then! Vangelis' brother, Nico, got us the gig. It was like being the Beatles, running out on the field of the stadium with all the spotlights on us. It was unbelievable"...
Within months Nektar were known throughout Germany as having one of the most stunning live shows of any band, the combination of exciting music and lights (courtesy of Mick Brockett and his assistant Keith Walters), winning over audiences at every turn.
In the early months of 1970 Nektar were seen performing in Hamburg by an American producer named Charlie Dreyer, v/ho owned a recording studio in Boston. "Charlie saw us play at the PN Hit Club in Munich and offered to fly us over to the USA to record in his studio" recalls Roye Albrighton. "We thought he was joking at first" adds Mo Moore. "But we soon realised that he wasn't. We flew to Boston and recorded some tracks at his studio. We used a Studer 8-track tape machine and the resulting sound was very thin and we had trouble getting a good sound".
Roye adds; "The album got as far as the acetate stage but for some reason it never got released. We were still in the throws of finding ourselves musically, but we did have a couple of songs that were written and some old favourites that we used to adapt for insertion into those songs such as "Norwegian Wood" and "Sealed with a Kiss". I seem to remember that we also recorded a very early version of "Good Day" during those sessions too".
Finding themselves back in Germany once more, Nektar embarked on yet more gigs to build on their rapidly growing following. Their persistence paid off in early 1971 when the band came to the attention of producer Peter Hauke, who had established his own progressive label, Bacillus Records. "Mo first met Peter in 1964 in Germany. We were invited to a battle of the bands which Peter was running for his new label with a record contract as the prize" remembers Ron Howden. "I think we lost the contest but got the contract because of the capacity crowds we were pulling at our gigs"! Hauke signed Nektar immediately prior to Bacillus being incorporated into the major German company Bellaphon. Thus Nektar found themselves part of Bellaphon's roster, with Peter Hauke as in-house producer and label manager. For their first album, Nektar had composed a conceptual work which was both outstanding and ambitious. Its concept was an elaborate science fiction tale which expressed concerns about the nuclear arms race. "Journey to the Centre of the Eye", was released as Bacillus BLPS 19049 in late 1971.
"We recorded "Journey" with Dieter Dierks, who owned his own studio in Stommeln. Peter Hauke was never in the studio for that album" recalls Mo Moore. "The studio in Stommeln at thot time v/as a small 10x12 room with an 8 track Studer recorder and a mixer. The part of the studio where we played wasas a 10 x 10 room in which we all played and were cramped together. There was no Dolby noise reduction at that time, and we had to play the entire piece live for the basic backing tracks as a cut would have been very noticeable. We then proceeded to fill all of the spare tracks with overdubs".
The release of "Journey", a stunning work, was backed up by an olmost non-stop touring schedule of Germany and Switzerland and the release of a specially recorded single. The idea of Nektar having producing a record with singles chart potential seemed alien to the band at the time. "We were a bunch of long haired rock musicians who never saw ourselves as potential pop stars in any way at all!" recalls Roye Albrighton. "To be honest I was against the idea, but we were coerced into recording a couple of tracks with a view to Nektar making an impact on the German singles chart".
"Do You Believe in Magic" b/w "1-2-3-4" was released in February 1972 as Bellaphon BF 18087 and achieved its intention, becoming a hit single in Germany. A gem of a three minute single, it features one of Roye Albrighton's most inspired, if short, guitar solos. Both songs were later reworked and extended on 1973's "Sounds Like This" double album. The single version of "1 -2-3-4" makes its CD debut on this expanded release.
With "Journey to the Centre of the Eye" Nektar made a significant impact in Germany. Their influence was still to be felt further a field, but the recording of the bands next masterwork would see the beginning of this, with United Artists
records in Britain taking up the reins with Nektar following the experience of "A Tab in the Ocean"... - Taken from the CD Notes
With the creation of the Dream Nebula Recordings imprint, Nektar and their management have had the opportunity to source the first generation master tapes of "Journey" and the "Do You Believe in Magic" single. The previous CD appearance of the album on the Bellaphon label was made from a poor quality copy master and bizarrely featured additional reverb which was applied during the original pre-mastering process.
Whilst sourcing the original master tapes for this series of Nektar reissues, the original multi-track tapes were found of "Journey to the Centre of the Eye". With the band always at the forefront of technology during the 1970's, the decision was taken to remix the album in 5.1 surround sound. Also possible was the editing of "The Dream Nebula" into a continuous piece. A glance at the multi-track masters reveals that the song was recorded in two distinct parts and at two different sessions, with the distinct intention of having each part as a separate track. Whilst debating the merits of remixing "Journey" in 5.1 Surround sound it was decided to edit both versions to form a continuous track. Although complex, the finished results can be heard on the 5.1 Surround mix. The disc you hold in your hands is an 'SACD Hybrid disc', which contains a Stereo layer, playable on any CD player. It features the remastered and denoised original mix and also contains the 2004 surround mix which can be heard on any SACD player or DVD player with SACD compatibility. We are pleased and proud to present Nektar's debut album in the manner it should be heard. - CD Notes
1. Prelude 1:24
2. Astronauts Nightmare 6:26
3. Countenance 3:33
4. The Nine Lifeless Daughters of The Sun 2:54
5. Warp Oversight 4:09
6. The Dream Nebula (Part 1) 2:15
7. The Dream Nebula (Part 2) 2:26
8. It's All in The Mind 3:22
9. Burn Out My Eyes 7:49
10. Void of Vision 2:02
11. Pupil of The Eye 2:46
12. Look Inside Yourself 0:53
13. Death of The Mind 1:55